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Tommy Emmanuel, 'Pippin', Dala and Buckethead 

Plus, 'Marathon Boy', R.I.O.T.S., Harvest and more

THURSDAY 10/6

TOMMY EMMANUEL
7:30 p.m. University of Central Arkansas. $50.

If you'd like to hear a guy play acoustic guitar faster than you'd ever think was possible by a human being, look no further than Tommy Emmanuel. The Australian virtuoso is one of only five in the world to be designated as a "Certified Guitar Player" by the late, great Chet Atkins. (The others in this tiny fraternity are John Knowles, Steve Wariner, the late Jerry Reed and Atkins himself.) In "Nashville Cats," The Lovin' Spoonful's ode to the studio bad-asses of Music City, John Sebastian estimated "there's 1,352 guitar pickers in Nashville / And they can pick more notes than the number of ants on a Tennessee ant hill." Well from the sound of it, Emmanuel can play more notes than the number of ants on all the ant hills in Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana combined. At 50 bones, this concert isn't for the light of wallet, but hell, by now, there are probably at least 1,500 pickers in Nashville. There are only two other Certified Guitar Players still with us.

FRIDAY 10/7

'PIPPIN'
7:30 p.m. The Weekend Theater. $16-$20.

Along with precursors such as "Jesus Christ Superstar," "Godspell" and "Hair," "Pippin" was one of several pop/rock musicals of the late '60s and early '70s that paved the way for the rock musicals of today. The music and lyrics were written by Stephen Schwartz (who also wrote for "Godspell" and "Wicked"), and the show was directed on Broadway by the legendary Bob Fosse. The original production ran for nearly five years, and racked up several Tony nominations, including a win for actor Ben Vereen. The story, by Roger O. Hirson, concerns the eldest son of King Charles, Pippin. He has just returned home and is determined to find some meaning in his life. Like so many young folks, he tries out politics, war, religion and good ol' meaningless flings, but comes up empty-handed. The Weekend Theater promises a colorful production that draws on Fosse's style while maintaining a distinct identity. The production runs through Oct. 23.

MUSICFEST EL DORADO
5 p.m. Downtown El Dorado. $15-$20.

There probably aren't too many other music festivals where you could see a lineup as diverse as the one featured at this year's MusicFest El Dorado. It's all over the map. You've got your R&B, your country, your rap, your rock and/or roll, your blues, your Southern rock, your post-grunge, your elementary and middle school choirs, your "Full On" rock, your singer/songwriters, your high school orchestras and your high school jazz bands. What say you, Coachella? Bonaroo? Lollapalooza? Whatchama-have-you? Your Pitchfork-approved indie pabulum seems pretty conventional when compared to MusicFest El Dorado. The festival hosts headliners Boyz II Men, Tone Loc and Devon Allman's Honeytribe (Friday) and Sawyer Brown, the Robert Fortune Band and James Otto (Saturday). Saturday's good times get rolling at 10 a.m.

HOT WATER HILLS MUSIC & ARTS FESTIVAL
3 p.m. Hill Wheatley Plaza. $5.

Dang but Arkansas has a lot of music festivals these days. It seems new ones, such as Festival on the Border, which took place a few weeks back in Fort Smith, are popping up all the time. And hey, that's awesome. Here's another new one: The Hot Water Hills Music & Arts Festival in Hot Springs. Headliners include Big Smith and Lucero front-man Ben Nichols on Friday night, and The Extraordinaires and Mountain Sprout on Saturday night, with sets by The Grand Marquis both nights. But as the name makes clear, this festival is about more than just music. How much more? How about: a pie-eating contest, an arm-wrestling contest, an egg-tossing contest, a pumpkin race, pottery demonstrations, a hay bale pyramid (for climbin'), a drum circle and music workshops. Plus there will be lots of beer, wine, soft drinks and food from such purveyors of deliciousness as Nom Noms, La Pasadita and others. Shea Childs and Bill Solleder of the much-loved Valley of the Vapors Independent Music Festival are the organizers of this new event.

FRIDAY 10/7

ARGENTA FILM SERIES:
'MARATHON BOY'
7 p.m. Argenta Community Theater. $8.

"Marathon Boy" is the story of Budhia Singh, a small boy from the Indian slums who is capable of running incredible distances. He had finished dozens of marathons before the age of 5 with the help of his coach and adoptive guardian, Biranchi Das. Controversy erupts when Das is accused of child exploitation by the Indian government and again when he is arrested and accused by Singh of torture. Not to give too much away, but things take an even darker turn after Das is arrested. The film, which follows Singh for five years, won top documentary honors at the Little Rock Film Festival last June. Director Gemma Atwal will be on hand for a Q&A at this screening.

SATURDAY 10/8

DALA
7 p.m. and 9 p.m. Argenta Community Theater. $30-$40.

From the Great White North comes Dala, made up of longtime friends Sheila Carabine and Amanda Walther. Over the last six years, they've released a clutch of albums featuring mostly originals peppered with occasional covers by such folk as Neil Young and Donovan. The two play dreamy, atmospheric folk-pop with beautifully soothing harmonies and no rough edges whatsoever. So if that sounds like your jam, check 'em out. Argenta Community Theater will be a great venue for a band like Dala. But please, don't ask them about hockey or Molson or poutine or SCTV or whether their families had pet polar bears when they were growing up. They probably don't want to talk about that stuff, even though we all want to hear about it. If you're up northwesterly, Dala plays Walton Arts Center Friday night at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m., $10-$35.

HARVEST
10 a.m. Wildwood Park for the Arts. $6-$26.

Fall in Arkansas is usually an excellent time of year, and this year is no exception. The weather has been sublime and there's a ton of stuff going on. For example, Harvest at Wildwood Park. This extravaganza of wholesome autumnal fun includes live music, The Arkansas Pickin' & Fiddlin' Championship, hay rides, arts and crafts, vendor booths, sack races, food and drinks, pioneer reenactments, a cook-off, model trains and more. If you've got young'uns, this is a surefire bet for good times. The festivities continue on Sunday at noon.

R.I.O.T.S., LR CREAM

10 p.m. White Water Tavern. $5.

So a few weeks ago I was out back in the upstairs of the shed, having an executive meeting with some of the principals from R.I.O.T.S. and LR Cream. When the inevitable topic of startup arose, Capt. Dr. Sgt. Alan Q. Disaster and Everett "Thrash Maestro" Hagen related a story that is no doubt a familiar one for many of us. Earlier this year, the two of them had been kicking back and relaxing to the soothing sounds of classic hardcore: Black Flag, The Dicks, Poison Idea, MDC and the like. Upon reflection, the two began lamenting the current climate of lameness among today's groups. "Why aren't there any bands that sound like this anymore?" Hagen exclaimed. "Wait a minute," Disaster said, an idea dawning on him, "We could start a band that sounds like this." So they called their buddies Will Boyd, Esq., and Mark "Mark Lierly" Lierly and thus was born R.I.O.T.S. It's name is an ever shifting acronym that has stood for: Ride In On The Shark; Really, It's OK To Shred; Relax — I'll Order The Sandwiches; Rub It On The Stereo, and others. LR Cream is a relatively new concern that is making its debut performance. The three band members — including the Rt. Rev. Andrew T. Morgan VII, Kyle Carpenter a.k.a. "Vince 'The Fireplug' Tire Iron" and the Hon. Zachariah Reeves — are veterans of Eclipse Glasses, the short-lived party instigation machine that dissolved a couple years back. This should be a good show, with a 30 percent chance of light moshing.

MONDAY 10/10

BUCKETHEAD
9 p.m. Juanita's. $20 adv., $25 d.o.s.

Buckethead, the incognito guitar wizard whose identity is a secret ... Or, hold on just a sec ... OK, I thought the whole big mystery with this guy was that he wears a bucket on his head and a mask on his face and we didn't know who he was. But it says right there on the Internet that his name is Brian Carroll, born May 13, 1969. So, uh, mystery solved, I guess. Anyways, despite the fact that, unlike Steve Vai or Joe Satriani, he actually doesn't want people to see his face, Buckethead is a wickedly vicious shred-meister, with serious bona fides in the normally disparate worlds of prog rock, metal, funk metal, butt rock and skronky avant-garde free jazz what-have-you. How many other guitarists can say they've played in bands with Bill Laswell, Bootsy Collins, Bernie Worrell and Axl Rose? Probably nobody else but Buckethead. So if you're a fan of weird, challenging music and/or you like having your brain annihilated by heavy guit-artillery, here's your Monday night.

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